A Field Guide to Color: A Net Galley Review

Color Theory… it isn’t something in which I thought I would ever have an interest. Then my daughter found art to be a fulfilling hobby and I began to search out avenues for her to enjoy. She had a wonderful time last year with a dear friend and local college student who taught her much about art theory, especially color. They studied many artists and discussed their use of color. I did not join in on their lessons and found this to be an excellent explanation of color and an inspiration in my own water color adventures. 

This has the feeling of a hand-drawn journal making it quite personable. Within the pages are opportunities for you as an artist to create your own color palates and really practice your craft. I love that it begins with the assumption that the reader is a true beginner, which I most certainly am! It would be a great addition to any art library whether you are a teacher or student.

I also appreciate that the Table of Contents is broken down into exercises and use of color for shapes to try. It truly is an inspiring book for any artist, especially those who are just trying the medium of water color. 

I’m excited to grab a hard-copy of this as I was reviewing a digital version. It will definitely be more valuable as a hold-in-your-hand paper book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about color theory with regards to water color!

I used a little big of what I learned in drawing this crazy little lizard!

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Learn to Draw Disney/Pixar Toy Story Collector’s Edition: A Net Galley Review

This was one of the most fun reviews I’ve done in a while! I was excited to have all the new characters from Toy Story 4 as well as all the old favorites. 

I have recently renewed my joy of sketching and had fun browsing through this title. My one disappointment was that the images appeared to be computer generated rather than hand-drawn. While I fully acknowledge the amazing technology which brought us the movie, it might be discouraging to a child to not be able to recreate replicas. Still, I found it to be quite enjoyable. 

I first this little alien with pencil. I then used water colored pencils and a water brush pen to fill in the colors. Then I used a dark colored pencil for details. 

When I showed my daughters my work, they were surprised and impressed! I assured them the book was incredibly helpful and they too could draw beautiful illustrations. They had fun picking out favorite characters to draw again. Forky is definitely a favorite!

This is a beautiful book compiling all the favorites of all the Toy Story movies. If you or your child is a fan of this Disney favorite, you will be delighted with the compilation of how-to drawings. 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen: A Net Galley Review

This is quite the gem of a little book! While the use of fountain pens at one time seemed to be a thing of the past, the idea of using this fabulous writing utensil is coming back to life! Most of us have no idea how to go about starting to use a fountain pen, so a guide like this is just what we need. 

There is something uniquely satisfying about dipping a pen into ink and putting pen to paper. I have recently worked to correct my pen grip. My parents tried and tried when I was younger to help me, but time and time again I went back to my incorrect grip. I finally have mastered the correction only going back every once in a while accidentally. I rewarded myself with a glass dip-pen and a package of gorgeous drawing inks from Winsor & Newton. 

I love how this book is organized with both drawing and writing fonts. It is understood that most people will not be using a dipped pen or fountain pen on a regular basis as more convenient and less messy options are available, but for creating art and lettering this particular medium is both unique and beautiful. 

I loved the line drawing pages! They are clearly hand sketched rather than computer generated which is important to me in a book with drawing instructions. The explanation for how to hold the pen at what angle, how to produce thicker vs. thinner lines, and how to create shadows were clearly expressed. 

Having never drawn with an ink-dipped pen I found the etched feeling of writing on parchment paper quite lovely. I have recently begun to sketch more and more and I am definitely adding in the use of my glass pen due to this book! 

I’m not very proficient at lettering yet, but I had fun trying some different fonts. Again, the letters in this book were each clearly hand-drawn giving me greater inspiration over the typical computerized styles I’m used to. 

Overall I was quite thrilled with this title and am looking forward to purchasing a hard-copy soon!

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Draw 62 Magical Creatures and Make them Cute: A Net Galley Review


Sketching and drawing cute things is relaxing to me. I’m not fantastic on my own, so sketching and drawing books like this one are a great help! 

The sketches in this book remind me of modern adult cartoons, think Simpsons style. I’m not a huge fan of this type of artwork. I didn’t realize it would be quite like this and honestly I’m not sure I would classify this style as cute! Still, there were some great tutorials within these pages. 

Each of the pages involves sketches only, which I really like. Nice clean lines make it easy to see what I’m supposed to do. For a non-professional like me this is quite important. I loved that the coloring was only on the final product and was still simply black and white. 

Again, the drawing directions are excellently laid out. I’m just not sure if I agree with the “make it cute” section. 

I created this in a little sketching journal I have. I started with a pencil sketch, painted with watercolors, and then use a think-line ink for the details. I picked this little salamander because we have a blue-tailed western skink running around outside in my flower bed. He’s really quite cute and eating some of the nastier bugs so I’m happy to have him living there. 

So even though I wasn’t impressed with the “cuteness” factor, I did find myself quite pleased with the outcome. Art is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. The best art books inspire you to create and give clear, simple instructions. There certainly isn’t any fluff here and since I’m pleased with my drawing, I give this book a high mark! 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Painting School: A Net Galley Review


I’ve been dabbling in doodling recently. Trying out sketching and watercolor just for fun. I’m never going to sell any of my artwork, not that I wanted to, but I do like improving my limited skills and learning new things. 

I was really excited about this title, Painting School by Tanya Emelyanova, for a couple of reasons. The first is that it’s geared towards kids and that’s about where I’m at! I also liked the look of the artwork. It has a Japanese Kawaii look to it with cute little eyes and facial features. I also like the variety and layout style of the book. 

Grace and I sat down to have a little art session! I had fun painting a whale shark and she a hammerhead shark. 

While I really liked the setup of this book and how the beginning is explained, it is very clear this artwork was done digitally. Now that isn’t a problem exactly unless you are trying to recreate using watercolors or acrylics as is suggested in the beginning. I’ve never made digital drawings so I started out with water color. The directions for painting these clearly makes it difficult for them to turn out the way you expect them to. For instance, you cannot put light colors over top of dark. I wish it had given clearer directions for painting in an order that would work. 
I do think this would make a great beginners guide to digital painting. 

Grace really enjoyed the painting. She didn’t seem bothered by the fact that it wasn’t easy to make it like the picture, but then she’s a kid and a really easy going one at that! My oldest daughter is a perfectionist and knowing her this would have been quite frustrating. 

Here are our finished art pieces! I ended up using watercolor pencils and then painting with water on top. Grace just used straight water colors and then added a fun background! 

Overall I still liked the book, but I think it could have been a little more practical or specifically address digital painting.

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Me and My Great Ideas: Portable Watercolor Palette

My poor husband indulges me endlessly with my crazy ideas! He supports me like crazy, but I have a feeling he feels like this more often than not…

So my latest idea comes from my desire to pursue my long forgotten love of drawing. I want to learn more about watercolor, especially with regards to painting nature. So I got it in my head a few weeks ago how great a little portable palette set would be. So off I went searching and scouring. Trying to find cheap, but questioning if they were any good. Then I stumbled upon “do it yourself” palettes. I found one I liked and off I went! 

I’m incredibly pleased with how this turned out! 

I’m well known for saving any little container I can. You never know when it will come in useful to store something! This is one I’ve had for ages, maybe since high school? I honestly have no remembrance of its origins. It has something to do with Coke because that’s what is on the inside, but otherwise I’m clueless! I’ve seen a variety of little boxes used, but I was looking for something compact, but not too compact, metal, and close-able. I don’t care it’s a bit banged up and dented. 

So based on the idea from the blog post I found on pinterest I used hotglue to create a divided palette. I lined the bottom with tin foil because I wasn’t sure how well the glue would stick to the container. I made 3 layers total of my grid and had this sweet little palette when I finished. 

I then filled in each compartment with liquid watercolor. You can see some of my colors are a little old, but I don’t care. I’m not trying to sell my art or anything. This is just for my own personal joy. 

I read a fantastic article a few weeks ago about how people are getting away from artistic endeavors which simply bring joy because they are so concerned about perfection and mastery. I am choosing to enjoy art and painting without desiring to become a master! 

Next I mushed the paint into the corners so it would fill the spots. I started with a brush to do this, but ended up using tooth picks. 

Next I made little labels identifying the colors of my palette so I know what they look like and their names. 

I painted the lid white, stuck on my labels, and glued in some bottle caps to make color mixing areas. It’s now sitting up on a shelf drying out because the idea is to have dry pigment rather than wet. I think it’s just adorable and I can’t wait to give it a try! It will be a few days while it dries, but I’ll post some art I create using this fun little tool! 

Have you created something recently? 

Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.: A TOS Crew Review

 ARTistic Pursuits

Teaching art can be a pretty intimidating prospect for homeschooling parents. We see the value, but unless we have had a thorough art education ourselves it is a subject that can feel overly difficult and get set on the back burner. I don’t believe any family would deny the value of art education, but finding the right resources to effectively and systematically teach this subject matters. You won’t need to look any further than ARTistic Pursuits Inc.. This well-established company knows how to make art fun for the student and simple for the teacher! We reviewed Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, part of the ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.

 ARTistic Pursuits

 For this particular course I allowed my 12-year-old to be the teacher to her younger sister, Grace, who is 8. Rose has a strong love of all things art, both its creation and history. She desires to be an art teacher one day and is often looking for opportunities to spread her wings. I love giving her these chances and I have the opportunity to guide her along the way. We all liked the layout of the hard-cover book. It is engaging and vibrant as well as laid out in a clear and consistently organized manner.

I love that the textbook is for both the teacher and student so there are not lots of unneeded extras lying around. I also really like how classic works of art are used to teach various concepts. In this title there are a wide variety of mediums used so students can have the opportunity to explore all sorts of different types of art including paper folding, sketches, oil pastels, water color crayons and more! In addition to learning different mediums students are also taught artistic techniques. Some are basic and some are quite complex. The lesson on drawing figures teaches body proportion and is full of clear instruction and tips. 

One of girls’ favorite lessons was learning about texture and using oil pastels. Rose sat with Grace and walked through the lesson in the book. Grace enjoyed having her sister teach her for this course!
The book is very easy to go through, making it perfect for anyone! Rose has not had extensive art lessons, just what she has picked up on her own and through books. This shows me that anyone can pick this up and use it! Grace had so much fun creating and learning. 
Although this is geared towards K-3 I think all ages can benefit from the art techniques taught. It is not a “crafting” sort of curriculum as some art I have seen. Rather it teaches very clear art technique using famous art for observation. I as well appreciate the diversity represented in the artistic styles, but also the cultural diversity in the historical art chosen. Art spans all cultures and heritage and I love having my kids see this represented in a curriculum. 

We all highly recommend this and other levels from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. I had the chance to stop by their booth when we were at a homeschool conference a few weeks ago! It was so fun to see the wide variety of options available!

Don’t forget to check out what my Crewmates have to say! 

Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Fabulous Last-Minute Stocking Stuffer Idea for the Little Artist in Your House!

Are you looking for last minute stocking ideas online? Look no further! 


Magic Stix are some AMAZING markers! Their are incredibly bright and have a no-dry guarantee for 7 days! 

The girls loved them. They always love art supplies, but these were particularly bold and colorful! They used some thicker paper for their artwork since they were using markers.

When you are off school for lots of days in a row sometimes you need a little help keeping the kids entertained. I only wish I had these years ago when we would constantly find dried out markers around the school-room because of forgetting the caps!

I LOVE their drawings! Rose and Grace chose a Christmas picture and Beth drew a cabin on a hill. So beautiful and see how bold these color are? This is on a slightly green tinted background paper and except for the areas not colored on you wouldn’t know it! Beth’s paper is the same as the other girls.

These markers are high quality, but affordably priced. Because of the won’t-dry-out guarantee it’s also an excellent investment! 

Don’t miss your opportunity to get these fabulous markers!

Disclaimer: I received a set of Magic Stix in exchange for promotion and an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc.: A TOS Crew Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc.  My girls love it when I give them supplies for arts and crafts and just let them create with no agenda or purpose or art theory. Kids are incredibly creative and come up with some of the most amazing works of art when we just give them freedom to make. Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. is an incredible tool for this kind of free creativity because they are the most mess-free paints I have ever seen! We had the opportunity to review one of the smaller sets of Thin Stix earlier this year. When I opened the box and the girls saw this amazing box inside they all began jumping up and down begging to open it up!  Thin Stix Creativity Pack  This set of 24 colors will keep your child engaged for a long time! In addition to the vibrant traditional colors there are also neons and metallics.  Thin Stix Creativity Pack

Thin Stix Creativity PackThin Stix Creativity Pack
 We decided to give rock painting a try with these fun, fast-drying paints. We haven’t tried rock hunting but I know it is all the rage on social media and I thought this could be a fun activity. If we don’t end up hiding any rocks we can just use them in our flower bed.
 Grace liked to put lots of layers on her rocks. These this was really good for her style of creativity. are perfect for that because they dry so quickly.You can see she was working on 3-4 rocks at the same time. This is perfect for her personality since she tends to jump from one thing to the next and not having to wait long kept her occupied longer.

I don’t have photos of myself, but I also painted some rocks! These paints just glide on their surface in such a smooth way. They were really enjoyable to use personally. I  Their chunky nature means your projects will not have tiny details, but we just adjusted our expectations and had such a great time using them!

While one might think mess-free paints are more suitable for pre-school and younger elementary students, my 10 and 12-year-old daughters really love them as well. When we were done with our rocks the girls asked if they could keep on creating. This is the sign of a quality product. No matter how much I may love something, if my girls aren’t engaged it really doesn’t meet our needs. Rose is working on a picture of a school bus.

 My favorite rocks the girls created were the pepperoni pizza slices! So adorable! My rock was a beach scene that didn’t turn out quite as lovely as their creations. Some other good uses for these would be posters and painting clay projects. We haven’t tried that yet, but I think they would work beautifully.

Although Thin Stix adhere fabulously to porous products like paper, they did have the tendency to wipe off with enough pressure on the rocks. This is no big deal as I usually coat our placing them outside to keep this from happening in the rain.

The girls chatted and created for well over 90 minutes. Wow! Winner in my book!

Make sure to see what my Crew-mates had to say!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.: A TOS Review Crew Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc  My girls love anything art-related. It doesn’t take any convincing on my when I offer an opportunity to create. When I told them we were going to get to review Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. they couldn’t wait until they arrived. Thin Stix by KwikStix  This is a unique product in that it is tempera paint in a stick form. When using them they almost feel like oil pastels in how they glide across the page. There are also package with an even wider range of colors. They are ideal for little hands and work well on thicker paper like card stock or poster board. We opted to take a little trip to the craft store and the girls picked out some wood projects to complete. We also did some rock painting. These were ideal uses!  

The girls had fun painting these little wooden characters from the craft store. The paint glided on easily and dried extremely fast. These dried in less than 90 seconds. Their only issue with these was that they are very thick and fine detail was a little tricky. This is only an issue because of the age of my girls. Grace did not mind not having a finer point for details, but Beth and Rose prefer a finer tip for art. These would be ideal for young crafters if you are a mom like me who is not a fan of big messes when making things. I saw no need to have the girls wear any protective clothing because the paint is in solid rather than liquid form. If the girls were younger I probably still would have had them cover with something. 

 Our second project using Thin Stix was a favorite for all of us!  

 We have a little potted flower garden in the front of our house and raised beds in the back. We decided to take smooth rocks and paint them for the flower garden. The girls painted rocks for a full hour! They did use some other paints for fine details this time, but most of the work was done with the Thin Stix. I loved how easily they glided onto the rocks surface and especially how fast they dried. One of the frustrations with art projects like this for my girls is waiting for things to dry. When they have inspiration, they don’t want to wait! They made rocks to look like favorite story characters, gems, animals, and all sorts of fun things. (I did find out from a test run that the paint may wash off in the rain, so if you do an outside project make sure to use a sealant on your project!)  We did not use this product on paper for a full project, but I did try them out as a test. You will definitely want to use thicker paper for best results. Again, the speed of drying time is a huge factor in how much these impressed me. Impatient little artists won’t have time to become engaged with something else because of the waiting. There have been so many times when the girls were very young that projects we tried simply flopped because of the extensive drying time.  Take a look at what my Crewmates have to say about Thin Stix 6pk of Classic ColorsNo Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}Crew Disclaimer